UNC Trustees Vote to Cut DEI Funding

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UNC Chapel Hill scaled

As North Carolina’s public university system grapples with potential changes to its diversity policies, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC-Chapel Hill) Board of Trustees has made a controversial decision regarding DEI funding the upcoming year’s budget.

During a special meeting focused on the university’ budget, the board voted Monday to redirect $2.3 million of diversity spending from state funds to support public safety and policing efforts. This move, if implemented, could lead to significant changes in UNC-Chapel Hill’s DEI initiatives, potentially resulting in the loss of its diversity office.

UNC-Chapel Hill is not alone in this shift, as other prominent universities in conservative-led states have also redirected funds previously allocated for diversity programs. What sets UNC apart, however, is that its decision predates legislative actions aimed at restricting DEI spending in public higher education. 

Following the vote, Dave Boliek, the budget chair, said the decision reflects a proactive “leadership role” by the board.

“I think that DEI is divisive,” he said at the Monday meeting. “I don’t think it’s productive. I don’t think it gives a return on investment to taxpayers and to the institution itself.”

Faculty and students at UNC schools have publicly expressed concern about the potential changes and voiced their support for DEI initiatives.

“Frankly, I was stunned,” Beth Moracco, a behavioral health professor and faculty chair at UNC-Chapel Hill, told WRAL, a local news station. “I have heard from faculty who are very concerned, who are concerned because they see the value in what we’re doing to increase equity and inclusion on campus”

The intended change is slated to take effect at the start of the 2024-2025 fiscal year, potentially impacting certain positions within the university’s Office of Diversity & Inclusion, which currently employs 12 staff members.The UNC Board of Governors is expected to vote on changing its diversity policy next week, a decision that will have far-reaching implications for DEI efforts across North Carolina’s public university system.